Voter information gotten from over 200 million American citizens was leaked this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored documents on a freeware Amazon server.
The leaked information had a pool of personal data of about 61 percent of the total American populace. This is also alongside the home address, birthdays, and mobile numbers, the records contain analysis used by political organisations to guess where voters’ opinion lies as regards issues such as ownership of Gun’s, stem cell studies, abortion of unwanted children, religion and ethnicity.
The information leaked was said to have been gotten from a variety of origins, ranging from American Crossroads to the super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, a former White House strategist.
Deep Root Analytics, a conservative data company that helps identify audiences for political advertorials confirmed that it was the owner of the data on Friday.
Chris Vickery, an UpGuard cyber security risk expert uncovered Deep Root’s data online last week. Over a terabyte of information was stored on the cloud server without the protection of a password and as such could be accessed by just anyone who got his hands on the URL. However, many of the files did not originate at Deep Root, but are a compilation of outside data companies and Republican super PAC’s creating awareness about the ever advancing environment that helped Donald Trump become President.
Even though the files gotten by Deep Root would be typical In any political campaign, experts have come out to say that it’s been exposed in one single database causes some concerns as regards privacy.
It is on record that RNC paid Deep Root about 983,000 Dollars the previous year, but its server contains records from a wide spectrum of other conservative sources paid millions more. The Republican party’s main voter data provider, Data Trust got over 6.7 million dollars from the RNC during the year 2016, its president DeStefano is now president Donald Trump’s director of presidential personnel.
Deep root further got several hundreds of data from the Kantar Group, a front-liner in media and market research. Each of the files gotten contained details of political advertorials, costs audience population distribution and many more. According to the reports, there were files on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and also the American Civil Liberties Union, in addition to files on all presidential elections candidate of 2016.
Spreadsheets gotten from TargetPoint which worked together Deep Root and GOP Data Trust in the period of the 2016 election contained address’s, dates of birth and political leanings of about 200 million registered electorates in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Target Point’s data looks to answer a query about the opinions of voters on various critical issues.
In a report, the founder of deep root was quoted as saying that his firm would assume full responsibility for the issues on the ground. He further disclosed that the data contained publicly voter data provided by government officials; he however said that measures have been put in place to forestall a future occurrence.
Deep root’s data was left exposed after the company upgraded its security protocol on June 1. Deep Root has engaged Stroz Friedberg, a cyber security and digital forensics company, to look into the matter.
Up till now, deep root does not believe its data bank was invaded by hackers during the period it was left exposed. Deep root’s server was discovered by UpGuard’s Vickery on June 12 while he was scouting for data that could be remotely accessed by Amazon’s cloud services. The same process was used by him to find out files connected to an American Defence Department project exposed by an employee of a Defense contractor.
A source who has years of working experience in political campaign data operations revealed to Gizmodo that the information exposed by Deep Root seemed to be made for the RNC and had obviously been utilised to make models for voter turnout and preferences.
Even though voter information is a public property, Deep Root’s database contains some information that requires permission to access, many of the file names showing that they had market studies on Democratic party candidates and the people supporting them.
However, even though exposure of Deep Roots data has the potential to negatively affect voters, it is just what politicians hunger for and will stop at nothing to acquire it. This data is important in getting an idea of what the voters are feeling and as such focus campaign resources in that direction for optimum output.
It should however be noted that this information soon becomes irrelevant and campaigns end quickly, therefore data can be done away with.